Is Paintable, Removable Wallpaper Too Good to Be True? — Apartment Therapy Test Lab


Certain landlords, and almost all dorms, have strict rules against painting the walls, which is a major bummer if you love color. So imagine my excitement when I learned about removable, paintable wallpaper — I shouted “hallelujah” and quickly ordered some to find out if it was the answer to all our rental wishes and dreams. So, is this product too good to be true?

One thing to note is that it took awhile to find actual removable paintable wallpaper. Loads of papers I came across were labeled ‘removable, paintable’, but after a closer look, the product installation required an adhesive activator: they weren’t the easy to install “peel and stick” paper I was looking for. So if you’re in the market for something similar, be sure to read the instructions, and ask questions, before you buy.

I tested removable wallpaper from Tempaper, who sells “Tempaper By You” for around $56 per roll. The label says it’s a “self-adhesive, repositionable, removable, wall canvas.” According to the company, you can use a wide variety of media on this specific paper, so I tested several for you to see how they did.

Test #1: Interior Wall Paint

This is the major one, and the test I was most curious about. To get started painting the wall, I cut and hung two lengths of paper side by side, being careful to overlap each onto the other by at least a 1/4 of an inch. The overlap is crucial, because you don’t want paint seeping in between the seams.

Next, I rolled paint onto the wall. It went on pretty streaky and didn’t look too promising at first. Above, you can really see the areas where the wall had been re-plastered, and where I’d missed a few air bubbles.

Tip: Try to work out the air bubbles as you go along, either by using a squeegee type tool, or smoothing from the center outwards to push any bubbles to the edge of the paper. Since this paper is so forgiving, you can also lift it back up if you get a particularly large unruly air pocket, then start again.

Like most dark-ish paint colors, you have to do at least two coats to get the coverage you need. Each layer took just under two hours to dry. (Drying conditions will differ from region to region. I painted on a cold, wet, fall day.) Once everything was dry, it looked much better and you could hardly see the seams at all. Although, I should note: the air bubbles did not magically go away when the paint dried. This paper won’t magically conceal your lumpy, bumpy walls. Drats.

Tip: All of Tempaper’s brand wallpapers state that they are made for smooth walls that are in good condition, and this paper is no exception. The walls in my apartment are all plaster and in decent condition (you’ll see a few lines and bumps in the close-up shots). For best results, use the paper on non-textured drywall, or flat, wood surfaces.

Once everything had dried, I peeled away the paper from the wall to see if any paint had seeped through the seams. It was incredibly easy to do, and there was no seepage. My walls were clean!

Conclusion: After two coats of interior wall paint, the outcome is very impressive, as long as your walls are in fairly good shape. If you’re able to use this paper on a perfectly smooth wall, you should be very satisfied with the results.

There are a few potential drawbacks: time and cost. It will take some time to first cover an entire wall in removable paper and then go back and paint it. But, once it’s done, you won’t have to paint when you move out, which is a big bonus. In terms of cost, each roll covers a roughly 8′ x 8′ stretch of wall, which means the price will really add up in a decent size room. One that’s 16′ x 16′ will cost almost $500.

Due to these factors, it probably makes more sense to do one accent wall versus an entire room. It’s also a really a nice option for testing large paint swatches in a room, without committing to painting over the original color.

Test #2: Crayon/Permanent Marker

7-year-old me would be SO STOKED to color this paper and have mom stick it over my bedroom furniture, not to mention all over my bedroom walls. So. Stoked. So I tried out some crayons and permanent markers to see if my elementary school vision could become reality.

Conclusion: Works great! Art supplies stick to the surface like a champ, with no smearing or faded colors. Which makes this paper a great option for wall murals, or just letting your kid go to town on a vertical surface one afternoon. (Not sure if that’s behavior you’d want to teach however!) Still, a lot of fun.

Test #3: Inkjet Printer

Paintable wallpaper is one thing, but what if it was printable as well? I had high hopes for this. If it worked, my plan was to create a bright and colorful pattern to stick to the front of my desk drawers, or for other fun small projects around the house.

In order to feed it through the printer, I cut a length of paper from the roll and adjusted it to stick perfectly on a piece of 8 1/2″ x 11″ cardstock. Before printing, I checked to make sure it would easily peel off the cardstock so I could re-stick it to another surface. That was no problem.

Conclusion: As you can see in the photos above, the design went on unevenly. and never dried to the touch —the ink just didn’t want to settle down into the wallpaper. Total fail.

Test #4: Spraypaint

This next and final test was in hopes of creating a big graffiti mural. Otherwise, I’m not sure why you’d want to use spray paint on removable wallpaper, but, just in case you were wondering, I tried it for you. I literally just aimed the can and sprayed to see what would happen.

Conclusion: Like the inkjet printer test, these results weren’t that impressive. The surface of the paper just wasn’t a good canvas for this type of paint, and it was hard to get good, opaque coverage.

Overall, this paper has a lot of potential for crafters, renters, and commitment phobes. To get the most bang for your buck, use on small, smooth surfaces.

What you do think? Would you buy this paper and use it at home?

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